David Cameron has pledged to boost dementia research funding and improve care and support for people with the condition, in a major speech today.
The plans are designed to boost diagnosis rates for people with dementia and speed up progress on the 2009 national dementia strategy in three areas: improving dementia awareness, research and care and support.
The prime minister is also setting up three groups to lead the work in these three areas and report back to him in six months.
“Today is an historic moment,” claimed care services minister Paul Burstow. “For the first time, a British prime minister has made dementia a clear national priority. We are determined to go further and faster on dementia focusing on the three areas that matter most: awareness, quality care and research.”
The main announcement today is that government funding on research into dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases will rise from £26.6m in 2009-10 to £66m in 2014-15, addressing relatively low levels of resourcing for studies into the disease, compared with conditions such as cancer.
The pledge was welcomed by the Mental Health Foundation. Chief executive Andrew McCulloch said: “It is also crucial that the existing research on the determinants of dementia is properly disseminated as it seems that the general public and practitioners lack knowledge on that matter.”
As already announced, hospitals will be rewarded for assessing people aged over 75 for dementia where they report memory problems, and referring them on for further support, with up to £54m available in 2012-13 under the National Dementia Commissioning for Quality and Innovation Plan.
The NHS would also be “mandated” to provide access to information on local health and social care services for dementia for patients, carers and professionals.
The Department of Health wil also launch national awareness campaign to raise awareness of dementia and publicise how support can be accessed.
There will also be plans to create 20 “dementia-friendly communities”, which will involve areas being better set up to include and support people with dementia, to tackle high levels of stigma and social exclusion for the group.
This work will be led by Alzheimer’s Society, which today urged social care professionals to do more to tackle social exclusion among dementia patients, as it published its Dementia 2012 report on the state of support for people with the condition.
Image: Rex Features
Community Care Live
Care services minister Paul Burstow will deliver a keynote speech at Community Care Live, the annual free event celebrating the best of social work practice in the UK. It takes place on 16 and 17 May and you can register to attend now.